Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Monday, February 10, 2014

Being an effective leader includes taking care of four people

Commentary by Senior Master Sgt. Timothy Wieser
773d Civil Engineer Squadron


2/10/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska  -- I have read many articles on leadership throughout my 15 years in the Air Force and have adopted many great traits from all of them. One particular detail common to many of the articles is taking care of your people. I believe this is an extremely important principle, but would like to expand on the matter by focusing on four "people" and how to care for each.

Take care of your subordinates

In order to take care of your people, you must know your people. I believe this starts with getting to know your subordinates. Where they are from, how many siblings they have, what their favorite sports teams and music genres are, etc. Knowing your people shows you care and will help develop synergy in your section.

Take care of your peers

We preach this every day in our Air Force ¬¬- make sure you have a wingman. However, if you are a master sergeant and one of your fellow master sergeants is having issues with his or her section, do you offer to help or do you show how great your section is in comparison? We are all human beings and we all want to do well. Teamwork means we are all on the same team and need to take care of each other.

Take care of your leaders

I feel this is often overlooked. Our leaders take orders from higher authorities, just like us, and we need to have empathy to transform their vision. If you don't like their decisions, it is still your job to carry out their vision and move forward without undermining their authority or causing morale issues. Remember, leaders can have bad days too so don't be afraid to ask, "How is your day going? You look stressed. Is there anything I can do?"

Take care of yourself

This is by far the most important. By taking care of yourself physically, mentally, technically and spiritually, you can truly walk the walk. If you can take care of yourself, and practice what you preach, you will become a transformational leader who can continue to meet every challenge in the current fiscal environment and make our Air Force run like a well-oiled machine.

It is very difficult to take care of all four of these people groups 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You must find balance in life. Bottom line: If you have self-awareness, you can become a great leader by learning from the mistakes and successes of your subordinates, peers and leaders. Most importantly, as you have heard before, if you don't learn from your past, history is bound to repeat itself. To be an effective leader, you need to learn from your own mistakes. The next time you self-reflect, ask yourself how you are doing taking care of your people.

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